Jeanne Gerville-Reache

Jeanne Gerville-Reache

French opera singer, contralto
Date of Birth: 26.03.1882
Country: France

  1. Biography of Jeanne Gerville-Reache
  2. Early Life and Education
  3. European Career
  4. American Success
  5. Legacy and Death

Biography of Jeanne Gerville-Reache

Jeanne Gerville-Reache was a French opera singer, a contralto. Her European career began successfully just before the start of the 20th century. In 1907, she traveled to America, where she remained an incredibly popular singer until her sudden death in 1915.

Jeanne Gerville-Reache

Early Life and Education

Jeanne Gerville-Reache was born on March 26, 1882, in the town of Orthez in southwest France. She came from a wealthy and influential family, as her father was the governor of the French Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique. She spent her childhood on Martinique with her father and her Spanish mother.

Jeanne Gerville-Reache

Gerville-Reache studied in Paris under Rosine Laborde, who introduced her to her former student, the opera soprano Emma Calvé. It was Calvé who arranged Gerville-Reache's professional debut at the Opéra-Comique in 1899, where she performed the role of Orphée in Gluck's "Orphée et Eurydice." Gerville-Reache continued to train with the legendary mezzo-soprano Pauline Viardot-Garcia, who also helped her secure a position at the Opéra-Comique. She remained there until 1903, performing notable roles such as Catherine in Camille Erlanger's "Le Juif Polonais" in 1900 and Geneviève in Debussy's "Pelléas et Mélisande" in 1902.

European Career

Despite her talent, Gerville-Reache faced tough competition from Marie Delna, a prominent contralto who fiercely protected her roles in both the Opéra-Comique and the Paris Opéra. After a major dispute with the director of the Opéra-Comique, Albert Carré, Gerville-Reache was forced to leave the theater. She then joined the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels, where she performed in five operas over the next two seasons. In 1905, she made her debut at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden in London, once again performing the role of Orphée.

American Success

In 1907, Gerville-Reache made her first visit to the United States and performed with the Manhattan Opera Company in New York until 1910. The audience and critics were enthralled by her portrayal of Geneviève, and her interpretation of Dalila became a shining example of her talent. She also participated in the world premiere of Jan Blockx's "Princesse d'auberge" in 1909 and the American premiere of Richard Strauss's "Elektra" in 1910, where she played the role of Klytaemnestra, although she did not enjoy the part.

In 1910, Gerville-Reache married Georges Gibier Rambaud, the director of the New York branch of the Pasteur Institute. From 1910 to 1912, she performed with the Chicago Grand Opera Company, singing her unforgettable Dalila, the lead role in "Carmen," Brangäne in "Tristan und Isolde," and Fricka in "Die Walküre" in cities such as Boston and Philadelphia. In 1914 and 1915, she performed with the National Canadian Opera in Montreal.

Legacy and Death

On January 5, 1915, at the age of 32, Jeanne Gerville-Reache tragically died of food poisoning, which led to a ruptured appendix and a miscarriage, leaving behind her husband and two young sons. The opera world lost one of the most beautiful voices of the 20th century. Gerville-Reache had made several recordings between 1908 and 1913 for labels such as Columbia Records and Victor Talking Machine Company. Her descendants still live in America.